Celtic will learn on Friday when they take on Glasgow City if they are ready to challenge for the SWPL title, believes new Hoops signing Jodie Bartle.
The two go head to head at the K Park in East Kilbride in front of the BBC Alba cameras.
Much is expected of Celtic and their city rivals Rangers this season after a number of players moved to full-time football, but Bartle accepts the 13-in-a-row champions Glasgow City are still the team to beat.
“That’s a massive game for us to start with,” said Bartle. “I think it’s going to be a really, really good game for us.
“It’ll be good to see how far we’ve come, even just in the past few months since we’ve started pre-season and since all the girls have been brought in.
“It’ll be a good time to see where we’re at really. See if we can compete, and afterwards then we can set ourselves the bench mark and maybe see what we can do for the rest of the season.”
Bartle, 27, made the move to Scotland at the end of January from Coventry City after spells at Yaxley, Peterborough Northern Star and Loughborough Foxes.
And she revealed there will viewers from Europe tuning in to Friday’s clash, which kick starts the league season.
“My parents are in France at the moment, but one of my close friends has said he’s going to find the game on TV and facetime it to my parents,” said Bartle.
“I think both teams are going to have a point to prove. They’re champions, they’re champions for a reason, they’re champions consecutively for a reason. They’re not going to let off in the slightest and we’re going to give it as good as they give.”
‘No excuses’ from City
Celtic have already got their season underway, drawing 0-0 with Glasgow Women, then thumping St Johnstone 6-0 in the opening two games of the revamped SWPL Cup.
For City, Friday’s game is their first competitive clash of the campaign, but head coach Scott Booth is confident his side have had a strong enough pre-season to prepare them for the task in hand.
“We’ve worked really hard to make sure our pre-season games have been competitive,” said Booth. “That was important. We did understand that they would have competitive games before they played us, that was why we were making sure we had that ourselves.
“We’ve played the majority of our friendlies against boys teams. And that brings a level of physicality and a different type of game, a game that gets us ready more than a traditional pre-season game.”
Celtic sent shockwaves through the division when they won the last meeting between the two 4-1 in November, City’s first league defeat since June 2016.
City were coming to the end of a year which included a long league campaign, two domestic cups which brought with it two cup finals, a Champions League run which has set City up for a quarter-final with Wolfsburg in March, and a number of players taking part in the World Cup and the Under-19s European Championships.
Therefore Booth would be entitled to make excuses for his side’s performance that day, but instead he believes Celtic fired an early warning to his players ahead of the new campaign.
“We wouldn’t make any excuses,” said the former Aberdeen and Borussia Dortmund striker. “Celtic beat us on the day and were the better team on the day, that was for sure.
“We didn’t hit the level of football that we had hit in the season, but that said it was quite a busy part of the campaign for us and we were definitely showing signs of fatigue at that stage. But I wouldn’t take anything away from Celtic, they played really well and they took their chances that day.”